MANGALURU: Western Ghats are full of endemic species. But now is a crucial moment for the wildlife, especially, the birds where they run into extinction. The ‘Great Indian Bustard’, found in central Karnataka has at most 5 years to go into extinction. There are just 150 to 200 of them left,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) Punathesh Sridhar at the inaugural of three-day bird festival organised by the state government, at Townhall on Friday.
“We have to reverse the destruction in 50 years. Make the initiative viral,” he urged. Mangaluru, with its coast and mangroves, makes for an excellent destination for bird viewing, said chief conservator of Forests Sanjay Bijur, at the fourth bird festival, celebrated in townhall, on Friday.
Forest and Environment Minister Ramanath Rai said he launched the programme in 2015 after being inspired by Principal Chief Conservator of ForestsVinay Lutheran, a bird enthusiast.
The programme started in 2015 at Ranganatittu, to encourage birding among youth and check the influence of human presence on the winged species. It was held in Dandeli in 2016, Bellari Daroji Karadidhama in 2017 and in Mangaluru in its fourth year.
“There is a large international community of bird lovers, hence the innovative programme was started in Dandeli three years ago. There is now a need to identify birding zones,” Rai said.
“Dakshina Kannada has large number of woodpeckers and kingfishers,” said MUDA Chairman Suresh Ballal. “ Earlier, one could spot cuckoos on cherry trees and bulbuls on bell fruit trees. With cities expanding , children miss the varieties,” he said.
“There were myths about owls. Whites were called lucky and fetched one upto `3 lakh, whereas black owls are considered bad omen and were killed,” he said.
Renowned wildlife photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee and ornithologist Aasheesh Pittie expressed enthusiasm about the festival. Day two includes birding at 6 am and 3.15 PM onwards apart from talks on birds. Post lunch session will include a bird quiz for adults, children’s art workshop by renowned cartoonist Rohan Chakravarthy and quiz. Day three will have pelagic birding.
Birders explored Sasihitlu, Mangaluru University and the wetlands at bondel. For the first time, the bird festival will host marine bird watching.
Bird enthusiasts sight Eurasian Curlew, Caspian Tern on first day
Enthusiasts had a delightful birding experience on the first-day of three-day Hakki Habba that kick-started in Mangaluru on Friday. The birders who were divided into three groups and went searching for the winged visitors at Mangalore University campus in Konaje, beachside of Sasihitlu and Kalachi Kambla, managed to see a good number of birds. Shivashankar, a birder from Karkala said they sighted Western Reef Heron, Greens Shanks, Red Shanks, sand pipe, wimbrel.
His group, which consisted of over 25 people from Bengaluru, Mysuru, Shivamogga and Davangere also sighted flocks of terns and guls but could not identify them as they were far. Ashiq, who went birding at Kalachi Kambla said they could not see much activity as there was high tide in the sea. While the birders were scheduled to start at 3.30, it actually started at 4.30 at Kalachi Kambla and 4 at Sasihitlu. However, the birders at Kalachi Kambla were not disappointed as they could sight Caspian Tern, which is rarely sighted. Ashiq said they also spotted Whimbrel, Spotted Owl, Gull-Billed Tern among others.